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Germantown's Jason Will to Perform in Acacia's "Emily"

Feb. 12, 2009

Germantown resident Jason Will will have a leading role in Acacia Theatre Company's world premiere production of "Emily."

Written by Chris Cragin, “Emily” explores the life, faith and poetry of the enigmatic Emily Dickinson. Will has been cast as Dickinson's older brother, Austin. Performances will run Feb. 27 – March 8 in Concordia University Wisconsin’s Todd Wehr Auditorium, 12800 N. Lake Shore Drive in Mequon, Wis.

By the time Emily Dickinson was 30 years old, the reclusive poet no longer left her family home and rarely accepted visitors. “Emily” brings the poet to life, telling her story from a faith perspective and examining the striking events and relationships that may be pieces to the puzzle of her seclusion. With her poetry woven throughout, the play offers a glimpse of Dickinson's true self, including her passionate faith, her vigorous intellect and her wounded heart.

The play begins on Easter Sunday 1860, when Dickinson was 29 years old, and moves back in time chronologically to May 1848 and her high school graduation.

“The play begins with the end result – Emily’s seclusion – and works backward to a time when she was more social,” said Director Dr. David W. Eggebrecht. “It’s an interesting perspective, knowing what’s going to happen. It gives you insights into why she became the reclusive poet that she became. The traumas that occurred in her life accentuated her eccentricities and led her to become much more introspective.”

Some of Dickinson’s best-known poems – including “If I can stop one Heart from breaking,” “I held a Jewel in my fingers,” “I measure every Grief I meet,” “One Sister have I in our house,” “You left me, sweet, two Legacies –” and “I'm Nobody! Who are you?” – are woven into the script.

“The poetry just flows,” Eggebrecht said of the script. “The poems used in the play are easily accessible. They become part of the action and, in the context of the story, are easily understood. You see the intricate role that her poetry played in her life. It helps explain who she was and why she was that way.”

The play also takes a faith-based look at Dickinson’s work.

“For some reason, Dickinson became disenchanted with formalized religion,” Eggebrecht said. “She struggled with the role God played in her life and how to define God. That struggle was on the outskirts and motivated her to do what she did.”

A longtime fan of Dickinson’s poetry, and an English teacher by trade, Eggebrecht still found surprises in the script.

“It makes Emily Dickinson a real person,” he explained. “I’ve always thought of her as this nebulous poet who dressed in white and separated herself from the rest of the world. The play makes her a real person. Its depictions of her relationships with the people around her – from her parents to her brother, her sister and her friends – brought all sorts of surprises to me.”

Performances will be given at 8 p.m. on Feb. 27, 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, 3 p.m. on March 1, 8 p.m. on March 5, 8 p.m. on March 6, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on March 7 and 3 p.m. on March 8.

Tickets cost $15, or $13 for senior citizens, full-time clergy and full-time students. Tickets may be purchased by calling (414) 744-5995 or visiting www.acaciatheatre.com.

Founded in 1980, Acacia Theatre Company is an independent, non-profit, interdenominational group of dramatic artists who share a common desire to integrate art and faith by presenting theatre from a Judeo-Christian worldview. Through uplifting, quality entertainment, Acacia provides occasion for thanksgiving, growth and enjoyment, and the opportunity for Christians and non-Christians to consider their lives in relation to God. More information is available at www.acaciatheatre.com.

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